Saturday, April 9, 2011

Chickens From The Past

Lace Wing Wyandotte Hens
I was looking through files of pictures from years ago.  We had chickens in Santa Fe, and some moved to Albuquerque with us.  We had gotten our New Mexican chickens from a New Mexican hatchery. Not only was I less than pleased.  But, they were too closely bred, and were cannibals.  Yes, cannibals.  Some of them ate the feathers off, and then the backs of the other chickens.  I had heard about this, but had never seen it.  In a state where cock fighting is still legal, it makes sense.  Close breeding lines of chickens causes aggression, among other problems.  That's great for fighting cocks, but not for laying hens.

Lace Wing Wyandottes are one of my favorite breeds

The Auracanas were the nasty ones, but we had a few lace wing Wyandottes, and Rhode Island Reds. 
In the 1st photo on top you can see the back of the middle hen is 
missing feathers.  In the picture you can see how unhappy these birds were from being picked on (literally) all the time. Their feathers though, are actually perfect.  However, as a poultry Judge, their combs are a disaster.  Lesson learned and shared: 
 know your breeder.

The craziest rooster I have ever seen

This rooster above almost looks dead in this picture.  He's not. This guy crowed ALL night, every night.
He also layed on his stomach (as in this photo) with his feet stretched out behind him.  I could never figure out why he laid in this position.  Let's say he wasn't  "neurotypical" in any way.  One day I couldn't find him...and I imagine an owl or a hawk took him.  Although sad, we did not miss his nightly crowing.
A buff Orpington hen.
Most of the chickens were given away to a family with kids who wanted eggs.  We kept 3 (my son's favorites) and kept them for 2 years in Albuquerque. In the city limits you are allowed up to 15 hens, and one rooster. They say in the ordinance: "in compliance to sound restrictions."  I picture rooster owners sitting down with the cock on their lap and reading him the city ordinance.

 I was still working in the movies when we bought our house in the county on an acre of land.  We moved the chickens with us.  I even added 6 pullets (young hens) to freshen the laying flock.  One night my son forgot to lock them up, and in the morning came out to blood and feathers everywhere.  The coyotes got them all.  I was at work, and missed the whole ordeal.  I lovingly washed and put away all the feeders, heaters, and nesting boxes.  It's taken me 2 years to even think about getting more.  

So now you have some understanding of why we are building "Fort Chicken." It is 12' x 35'. The floor of chicken wire is in. Now for the sides and the roof.  Every seam is sewed together with bailing wire. And if that's not enough-- I have 6' horse fence around the entire sides that is sewn to the chicken wire. There are 2 x 4's running on the ground and roof that the the chicken wire is attached to.  The only way coyotes will be able to get in will be with wire cutters.  Right now a NM spring wind storm is preventing further work (and I have bronchitis).  
A photo of my black prize winning Cochin.

The peeps are growing. The copier box I use to put them in when I clean their nursery every day, they hopped out of! The larger ones had their heads peeking over the top.  The points of beaks were lined up along the edge of the box.  Their back feathers are coming in.  The larger Cochins continue to run to me, or puddle jump when I open the door.  Then they turn their heads to the side and give me that one eyed "chicken stare."  When Bob walks by the nursery he looks through the window and says: "Hi Kids!"  We are down to 85 degrees this week, and they are looking pretty sturdy.   More photos this weekend.

I have my eye on a wooden bench on Etsy....sort of bleacher seats for chicken watching.  

Thanks for reading. Blogger decided to put the last part of this in bold/italic. And will not let me change it.  Augh!
Each day is a gift. Open now.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chick Cam

Here is the first video...fingers crossed.  It's a start, and you get the idea. My voice is VERY hoarse.  Click on the link below.

Thanks for reading.
Each day is  a gift. Open now.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Tallulah is a good flyer...not fryer
The chicks have gotten lots of new feathers in the last 24 hours. Mostly on their wings.  Today I opened the door to the nursery to stick my camera in for some new pics.  The bantam buff Cochins came flying at me.  They all crash landed and piled on top of one and other.  It's like the Keystone Cops with wings.  "Myster E" is the tiniest and has the most feathers. He flies the highest and the farthest.  The standard size breeds all watch him in amazement.  They are 3 times his size.  So his arial prowess could be his most endearing feature.
"Myster E" in the middle 
Standard buff cochin who poses for the camera....really, she does!

I will get out the video camera so you can see.  I am reminded of Molly the Owl. I watched her with 2 clutches of owelettes almost daily. The "Chicken Cam" will be born.  :-)
Little feathered chicken feet!  I doubt I will be able to eat any chicken with a bone in it soon.
I am still battling the "coughing crud" that is going around. I hadn't had cough syrup since I was about 5.  The taste of cherry flavored anything turns my stomach because of a dose of Vicks 44 I had back in the day.  Bob hounded me to take it.  I am here to say that it's as nasty as ever.  I think if I poured a glass of Dr. Pepper and left it on the windowsill for a week it would taste exactly like cherry cough syrup. Blech.

Thanks for reading.
Each day is a gift. Open now.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Future Peach Pie

Gala Apple Blossoms
Today the nursery that I bought the most expensive tree I have ever bought came to plant it.  I can't say they were tip top, like the guy last year.  They were very surly, and not helpful.   I told them they needed to dig a bigger hole, but they would not comply.  I sent Bob out for some testosterone, but he was as helpful as Buddy our dog.  This peach tree  came in a square 20" crate.  It's an Elberta yellow freestone.

I went around the property watering while they were here.  The 3 apple trees I planted last year are doing really well.  It's officially spring, as our big desert ash in front is spring green.  Strawberries are coming back beautifully.  Now to buy some nut trees, and decide where to plant them.  My onions, spinach, chard, and peas are all up.  This time of year is so exciting to me.  I love to watch everything wake up.
peas, spinach, onions, and chard
Yesterday we had a huge wind storm.  As usual tumbleweeds are everywhere.  It was the day my son and friend Ami were coming to work on "Fort Chicken."  I have some crud that erased my voice, and makes me cough, and I feel pretty lousy unless I've taken some Ibuprofin.  So I was not going to work at all.  They all showed up in spite of the weather with 50mph winds.  They put the last piece of chicken wire on the floor of the run.  This meant moving tons of rock again, and sewing the seams together.  Out of love for me they all worked in the inclement weather.  I layed in bed and felt very guilty.  I owe them BIG time.
"Fort Chicken" floor 
They are growing!
The chicks are still being brought into our living room at night, as the temps are 30 degrees, and the winds have been brutal.  All doing very well. Except one seems to have a bad leg...I am keeping an eye on her.  In fact it's almost time to buy more feed.  I lay in bed at night and hear them peeping.  Somehow that soothes me.
Spring green in the desert is extra special.
Buddy guards the new peach tree. :-)

Thanks for reading.
Each day is a gift. Open now.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Week One Chicks

Standard buff Cochin on left, and a Seabright "Myster E" on right.

As asked for, here are more photos of the chicks.  They are twice the size of when they came to us! They are also feathering out.  You can really see the feathers on "Myster E's" wings.
While I change their bedding, I put them in a box. They huddle for protection.

My grandson holds "Myster E" the surprise chic the hatchery added. He's a Seabright rooster.

A very tame buff Cochin hen.

"Chicken Ballet" is what I call these stretches

The last photo (above) is when I open the door to the nursery. The buff Cochins and a few Langshans come running to the door.  They know I am food and Mommie.

Thanks for reading.
Each day is a gift. Open now.